Beauty salon legislation and regulations

Adhering to health and safety and getting the right beauty industry insurance and licenses is crucial when it comes to running a salon or spa. Here's what you need to know...

When it comes to starting your own beauty salon or day spa, adhering to the relevant legislation and regulations is absolutely crucial to the safe (and legal!) running of your business.

This article will cover:

For our complete, detailed guide on how to start a beauty salon or spa, click here.

For our guide to the equipment and software you’ll need to run a salon or spa, click here.

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Beauty salon qualifications and training

If you’re going to be performing salon treatments yourself, being qualified is a must. And, as the head of the salon, it’s worth training up to NVQ Level 4 or an equivalent so you know as much as possible about your treatments and are regarded as an authority in performing them.

The range of beauty qualifications available is dizzying. As well as NVQs, you can earn:

  • City & Guilds
  • SVQs
  • Vocational Training and Charitable Trust (VTCT) certificates
  • Confederation of International Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology (CIBTAC) qualifications
  • Comite International d’Estethique et de Cosmetologie (CIDESCO) qualifications
  • ITEC and Edexcel qualifications

NB: You should be aware that training from a product company won’t result in a recognised qualification.

You might also find that management training – which will help you to effectively run the business and your team – is useful if you’ve no prior experience in business or management.

Your local colleges or university may offer courses in beauty therapy and spa treatments which you can study on a part- or full-time basis, or you could look to train at a private beauty school.

Regulations checklist

✓ Obtain Licenses

First of all, you’ll need to register your salon or spa, and apply for a premises license, with your local authority or council. A premises license will enable you to legally run a salon and perform beauty treatments in the property you’ve chosen.

It’s important that you’re licensed to carry out each of your treatments, and it may be that your premises license does cover all of them – for example, massage and special treatment premises licensing enables you to perform manicures, chiropody, light treatments and more – but you might find you need additional licenses to legally perform others.

So, be sure to thoroughly check which licenses you’ll need to perform your treatments with your local authority (each region/county is different). If you want to go into this conversation prepared, check the government’s online license finder for an overview of what you might require.

On a different note, if you’re planning to play sound recordings in your salon – whether relaxing panpipes, crashing waves or the UK Top 40 – you’ll also need a licence from Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL).

You should also consider whether you’ll be serving any alcoholic refreshments – as you can imagine, alcohol is a heavily regulated substance which, as a business, you can’t offer without the right licensing. This will include an additional premises license enabling you to serve drinks in your salon.

“We offer complimentary prosecco, so I needed to pass an exam to gain my alcohol licence so I could then go on to apply for a premises licence. It was a costly process but totally worth it, as we know we’re doing everything correctly and by the book.”

– Rachel Fox, founder of The Beauty & Blow Dry Studio

✓ Get insured

When it comes to running a beauty salon, being covered by the right insurance policies is crucial in case you, your staff or your salon are subject to a claim for compensation – whether over an incomplete or unsatisfactory treatment or an accident a customer has had on your premises.

As standard, your self-employed beauty therapist insurance needs will include:

  • Public liability insurance
  • Products liability insurance (particularly if you’re selling beauty products at your salon)
  • Employer’s liability insurance (this is a legal requirement if you hire staff)
  • Treatment liability insurance

It’s worth looking into specialist salon, spa or beauty insurance providers, like Salon Gold, which can set you up with all of these plus plenty more in one package.

You can find an in-depth summary of the insurance you’ll need as a beauty therapist here.

✓ Set up business accountancy

In order to accept customers’ payments a business, you’ll need a business banking account and a merchant account – which is a must for accepting credit and debit card payments due to the process these payments follow:

    1. A customer makes payment with their credit or debit card. The money goes into your merchant account.
    2. The customer’s bank approves or declines the payment.
    3. If approved, the payment then transfers into your business bank account.

You can compare the best merchant account providers for your salon or spa using Startups’ free comparison tool at the top of this page.

You’ll also need to ensure you can manage your bookkeeping, cashflow and inventory.

It’s worth looking into software that can help you do this smoothly or, better still, employing an accountant. While you will have to pay them, you’ll also avoid the risk of making costly errors with your finances or wasting hours of your time grappling with numbers.

✓ Evaluate health and safety

While any business in a public premises needs to minimise health hazards – such a exposed wires, trippable rugs and wet floors – risk of personal injury is particularly rife when it comes to beauty and spa treatments, with therapists using products, equipment and tools on clients’ bodies. So, health and safety in a beauty salon is of paramount importance.

Health and safety with beauty products

To avoid the risks posed by the use of beauty products, make a list of all of the products you’ll use in the salon and obtain hazard sheets from their manufacturers.

Some will contain harmful substances that can cause skin and respiratory problems, so it’s essential that you assess their safety. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Essentials will help with this.

“Call your local council, as each county is different. They will send a health and safety officer to do a check for you.”

– Leah Durrant, founder of Beauty Re:Treat

Health and safety with salon equipment

You’ll need to check all of the equipment and tools that you use in your salon, thoroughly reading any information that has come with them to ensure you’re using them safely and hygienically.

If you have a shower or an automatic spray tan booth on your premises, you’ll also need to consider the risk of legionella bacteria from water systems and ensure everything is kept clean.

Furthermore, to offer treatments involving intense pulsed light systems or lasers in England, you must register with the Care Quality Commission.

Elsewhere in the UK, the Healthcare Inspectorate Wales, the Care Commission, and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety are bodies that can help clarify what’s legally required for the safe running of a beauty salon.